Staphorst cancels Sinterklaas parade due to last year's violence
The college of mayor and aldermen of Staphorst in the province of Overijssel decided that there will be no Sinterklaas parade this year. Due to the riots that happened last year near a Sinterklaas arrival party, the parade in Staphorst has been designated as a high-risk event. As a result, entities such as the police and the safety region have to provide advice regarding the application and organization of the event. According to the municipality, this leaves insufficient time to organize a safe parade.
Zwarte Piet is often portrayed as the buffoonish assistant to Sinterklaas by white people wearing chocolate brown or black face makeup, curly black wigs, a thick coat of lipstick to give the appearance of big lips, large hoop earrings, and a Moorish costume. Protests against this blackface tradition have emerged across various countries in recent years.
On November 19 last year, members of Kick Out Zwarte Piet (KOZP) came to Staphorst to protest against the people in blackface makeup in the parade. Amnesty International sent observers along with them. At the Staphorst exit of the A28 highway, counter-protesters were waiting for KOZP. This resulted in serious disturbances and considerable violence from the counter-protesters.
The local Sinterklaas committee announced on September 8 that they would no longer organize the parade, and the municipality reported that no other requests for a Sinterklaas event were made. As a result, there is too little time left to organize the parade properly. "To provide clarity for this year, we're implementing a time-out," said Mayor Jan ten Kate.
The municipality announced it plans to use the time-out to "consult with the community on how Staphorst can freely celebrate the festivals we commemorate, ensuring everyone's safety at the same time." Ten Kate emphasized that the events of 2022 must not be repeated. In September 2024, the board will re-evaluate "whether it's possible to have a peaceful Sinterklaas parade."